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Why oh why do others seem to have it easier than me? Why are some people happier than me? Why do some sail through everyday life without complaint?
A wise person once said, comparison is the thief of happiness. Or something like that! As a new mum, one of the best lessons I have learned is the futility of comparison… Or as I like to call it comPARENTING!
Early on in the motherhood stint, I met a couple of fellow new mothers for a coffee date. It was held at a beautiful mum’s place where she had lovingly put together some nibbles and tea for us. Our babies were the same age and it seemed we had similar interests so we thought we would get together.
I was tired. Little M was proving himself to be a difficult sleeper and I felt like I was doing everything on my own. Life was hard. I was tired and overwhelmed. Did I mention I was tired?
As would usually happen when I set foot outside of the house, every other parent seemed to have it easier. I couldn’t understand what I was doing wrong. I couldn’t understand why my baby wouldn’t sleep for more than an hour continuously. I looked at other parents with jealousy- their glowing complexions yet to be ravaged by sleeplessness… I noted that some people actually brushed their teeth and hair before leaving the house… But back to the coffee date…
As the other two mums luxuriated around the table laughing, chatting and sipping- their babies slept peacefully in their prams. Not to be with little M. I was holding him in one hand while stooped over the pram desperately rummaging around for my baby sling. The sling was the only way I could manage little M and have two hands free to get things done or even just sit and sip a cup of tea!
Well of course this particular day, I wasn’t so well- prepared.
I couldn’t find the bloody sling!
It was at home.
Where I should have been as well.
I crouched behind the pram, cried invisible tears of overwhelm while I pretended to be busy rummaging. In a last ditch effort not to scare off my new friends, I took a deep breath, found the present moment and dug up the strength to keep on keeping on. I joined the girls, jiggled little M on my lap, breastfed and tried to keep a smile on my face. All the while my ruminating mind was thinking…
“Why do other babies sleep? How come that mother seems so rested? Why won’t my baby lay there quietly so I can have a moment of peace? Why do other babies sleep? Why does every baby on the planet sleep at night for more than 1 hour in a row… sleep sleep sleep!”
Unfortunately, I actually missed the morning tea even though I was there in person! So much for mindful presence! I was having a cup of tea in comparison land! I was comparenting!
Hindsight (that wonderful, wise teacher) taught me two things:
1. I should have simply cried that day within the trusted circle of sisterhood. I realise now that my fellow new mums would have understood AND supported me. I have since tried it and it has gone well!
2. We can NEVER really understand the full extent of another’s experience just by outward appearances or within a snapshot of an entire life!
Who am I to assume that the other two mums for instance had slept? (And it is not my business even if they had.) Who am I to assume that their life was perfect? Well I’ll tell you “who am I”… I am a person who struggles daily with mindful awareness and accepting each moment. I am a person who is working on letting go of my preconceived ideas about how things should be. It is not always easy but with mindful awareness I can try and catch that ‘comparing cat’ who tries to whisper in my ear. With mindful awareness I TRY to look for the good in MY OWN situation.